Here we present the Constitution, as it was signed in 1787, along with the 27 Amendments.
How did those at the Constitutional Convention arrive at the compromises included in the document, and how did they try to convince others to support or reject the Constitution? Click on our popup annotations to learn more about the conversations and concerns being discussed at that pivotal time, as addressed by the authors of The Federalist Papers
: John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Follow the links to Congress.gov
to read the full text.
How has the Constitution been interpreted over the years? Our Supreme Court Ruling annotations provide brief descriptions of landmark decisions that have set the precedent for U.S. policy throughout its history. The links will take you to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute
, where you can read the original decisions handed down by the court.
Additional popups offer brief histories related to this document, changes that have been made by later amendments, and a list of all the signers along with links to their short biographies!
Direct quotes are italicized and links are in blue.
This Annotated Constitution was conceived by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, researched and written by Joshua Zampetti and Samuel Holliday, and published by Joshua Zampetti. The Clarence J. Brown Graduate Internship provided the funding for Zampetti’s work on this project.
Constitution of the United States
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect UnionThe Federalist Papers, No.2: It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they should divide themselves in to separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government. John Jay poses the question of Federalism versus Confederacy that is to become the major theme of the 85 Federalist Papers.
, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
All herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United StatesThe Federalist Papers, No. 62: …it does not appear to be without some reason that in a compound republic, partaking both of the national and federal character, the government ought to be founded on a mixture of the principles of proportional and equal representation. Madison discusses what would become known as the Great Compromise, which defined a bicameral (or two-house) legislature: one house created through proportional representation and one created through equal representation among the States.
, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.Brief History- The Great Compromise: Representing such varied states and people, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 brought understandably different proposals for a new legislative branch. Under the original Articles of Confederation, representation in the unicameral (one-body) legislature was based on statehood, to the benefit of smaller states. Whereas the New Jersey Plan would have continued this practice in the new government, the Virginia Plan called for a bicameral (two-body) legislature with representation based on population, which would benefit larger states. Eventually the delegates formed a consensus around the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise, in which a bicameral legislature would include one chamber with representation based on statehood–the Senate–and one chamber with representation based on population–the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the PeopleThe Federalist Papers, No. 52: …it is particularly essential that the (House) should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people. Madison describes the importance of brief terms for representatives in the House.
of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a RepresentativeBrief History- House Qualifications and Notable Figures (A1§2): A wide variety of people have served in the House of Representatives since the First Congress convened in 1789. The youngest person to serve in the House was Representative William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee, who was seated in 1797 at the age of 22. The oldest person to serve in the House was Representative Ralph Hall of Texas, who retired in 2015 at the age of 91. Elected in 1870, Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina was the first African American to serve in the House. Elected in 1877, Representative Romualdo Pacheco of California was the first Hispanic American to serve as a full Member of the House. Elected in 1916—four years before universal Women’s Suffrage—Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana was the first woman to serve in the House. Elected in 1957, Representative Dalip Saund of California was the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the House. who shall not have attainedThe Federalist Papers, No. 52: Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith. Madison discusses the qualifications listed in the Constitution for Members of the House of Representatives.
to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.Changed by section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
§3 The Senate of the United StatesThe Federalist Papers, No. 62: …a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government, It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient. –James Madison, describing the check of each house of Congress on the other, argues the check will restrain the ability of the legislature to expropriate power from the other branches.
shall be composed of two SenatorsThe Federalist Papers, No. 63: …however requisite a sense of national character may be, it is evident that it can never be sufficiently possessed by a numerous and changeable body. Madison explains the smaller number and longer terms of senators, as compared to Members of the House of Representatives.
from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereofBrief History- 17th Amendment for Direct Senate Elections (A1§4): Until 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures or appointed by governors when vacancies arose during a term. Initially, this layer of separation from popular election was intended to help the Senate cool the legislation of the House as the more deliberative body with greater policy expertise. This election method proved problematic, however; partisan disputes in the legislatures often resulted in vacant seats in the U.S. Senate and questions of corruption were often raised. The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provided for the direct, popular election of senators while preserving the ability of governors to fill in-term vacancies—provided they have the approval of the legislature.
, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.Changed by the Seventeenth Amendment.
No Person shall be a SenatorBrief History- Senate Qualifications and Notable Figures (A1§3): A wide variety of people have also served in the Senate since the First Congress convened in 1789. The youngest person to serve in the Senate was John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, who at age 28 was sworn into office in 1818. The oldest person to serve in the Senate was Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who retired in 2003 at the age of 100. Sworn into office in 1870, Hiram Revels of Mississippi was the first African American to serve in the Senate. Sworn into office in 1922, Rebecca Felton of Georgia was the first woman to serve in the Senate; she served just 24 hours after being sworn in. Elected in 1928, Octaviano Larrazolo of New Mexico was the first Hispanic American to serve in the Senate. Sworn into office in 1959, Hiram Fong of Hawaii was the first Asian American to serve in the Senate.
who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro temporeBrief History- Evolving Role of the President Pro-Tem of the Senate: Although the president pro tempore of the Senate was created by the Constitution, there is little public awareness of the position. Literally meaning president for a time, the role of the president pro-tem was to preside over the Senate when the vice president was unable to do so; it was not until 1890 that the post was held continuously throughout a Congress. From 1792 until 1886 the position was second in the line of presidential succession following the vice president, and in 1868 President Pro-Tem Benjamin Wade came within one vote of becoming president of the United States as a result of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. At the urging of President Harry Truman, the president pro-tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House were added back into the order of Presidential Succession (the current order: vice president, Speaker, president pro-tem, cabinet secretaries). The growing power of majority leaders led to the waning influence of the president pro-tem; by 1945 it was largely recognized to be a ceremonial role. The president pro-tem has received greater compensation than other Senators since 1816, and in 1969 the role was given an equal salary to the majority and minority leaders of the Senate. Today the president pro-tem routinely delegates the duties of presiding over the chamber to junior members, an authority the position has had since 1820.
, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such RegulationsThe Federalist Papers, No. 59:…EVERY GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO CONTAIN IN ITSELF THE MEANS OF ITS OWN PRESERVATION. -Alexander Hamilton on the issue of regulating elections.
, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in DecemberBrief History- 20th Amendment for January 3rd Convening (A1§4): One of the grievances raised against England in the Declaration of Independence was the ability of the king to arbitrarily convene or dissolve the parliament, so when the framers of the Constitution structured our legislative branch they wanted to ensure scheduling independence. While the underlying principle of this provision was sound, the choice of convening day became inconvenient as transportation and communications improved. One of the changes to the Constitution brought about by the Twentieth Amendment was shifting the convening day for the Congress to January 3. This would not only reduce the amount of time in which Lame Ducks could interfere with the incoming Congress, but also give the new Congress time in the event that they needed to select an acting president before the term of the incumbent expired.
, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by himThe Federalist Papers, No. 73: It not only serves as a shield to the Executive, but it furnishes an additional security against the enaction (sic) of improper laws. It establishes a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the community against the effects of faction, precipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good, which may happen to influence a majority of that body. Hamilton defends the executive veto as a check on the legislative branch against the improper use of power.
, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
§8 The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect TaxesThe Federalist Papers, No. 34: What are the chief sources of expense in every government…The answer plainly is, wars and rebellions… And later, …would it not rather be the extreme of folly…to leave the government entrusted with the care of the national defense in a state of absolute incapacity to provide for the protection of the community against future invasions of the public peace, by foreign war or domestic convulsions? Here, Hamilton justifies the authorization of Congress to collect taxes and addresses concerns over the indefinite nature of that power.
, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate CommerceSupreme Court Rulings- The Commerce Clause: Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) Expanded the regulatory power of Congress to include interstate commercial navigation under the commerce clause. Munn v. Illinois (1876) Granted states the power to regulate industry as a matter of public interest, but was reversed in Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois (1886) as an encroachment of the commerce clause, which gives this power exclusively to Congress in matters of interstate commerce. *The Wabash decision led to the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) and the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the first regulatory agency, which was designed to oversee the railroads as they expanded commerce across state lines. Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964) Found Congressional use of the commerce clause to prohibit racial discrimination in places of public accommodation affecting commerce to be constitutional.
with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare WarBrief History- Congressional Declarations of War: As part of the Constitutional Separation of Powers, the Congress was given the power to declare war, which the executive branch would then have the authority to pursue. In the history of the United States, only five major military conflicts have garnered congressional Declarations of War: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. Other conflicts, such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, occurred without formal Congressional Declarations of War. In 1973 the Congress moved to limit the President’s ability to pursue foreign military action unilaterally by passing the War Powers Act, which required campaigns lasting more than 60 days (or 90 if an extension is granted) to have an Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and properThe Federalist Papers, No. 33: And it is EXPRESSLY to execute these powers that the sweeping clause, as it has been affectedly called, authorizes the national legislature to pass all NECESSARY and PROPER laws. If there is any thing exceptionable, it must be sought for in the specific powers upon which this general declaration is predicated. The declaration itself, though it may be chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least perfectly harmless. Deemed the Necessary and Proper Clause, it was once feared to be too far-reaching and threatened to derail the passing of the Constitution. Hamilton addresses the criticism in Federalist No. 33, in which he describes the powers outlined in the clause as implied by the existence of a Federal government.
for carrying into Execution the foregoing PowersSupreme Court Rulings- Necessary and Proper Clause: McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Granted Congress implied powers to carry out its functions under the necessary and proper clause, and ruled that the States cannot obstruct those powers.
, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas CorpusSupreme Court Rulings- Habeas Corpus: Ex parte Milligan (1866) Ruled that a citizen not connected with the military service and a resident in a State where the courts are open and in the proper exercise of their jurisdiction is to be tried in a civilian court, restricting the ability of the president to initiate trial by military commission during the suspension of habeas corpus. This ruling sets a judicial check on executive power.
shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.See Sixteenth Amendment.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of ContractsSupreme Court Rulings- The Contract Clause: Fletcher v. Peck (1810) Declared a Georgia law repealing a land deal unconstitutional under the contract clause, protecting the sanctity of contracts. Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) Invoked the contract clause to overrule New Hampshire’s revocation of the Dartmouth College charter, further acknowledging the inviolability of contracts.
, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
§1 The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of AmericaThe Federalist Papers, No. 67: Calculating upon the aversion of the people to monarchy, they have endeavored to enlist all their jealousies and apprehensions in opposition to the intended President of the United States… Hamilton, reacting to the fears of the anti-federalists, attempts to alleviate concerns by describing the limitations to the power of the new executive.
. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same TermBrief History- Executive Role of the Vice President (A2§1): Compared to the description of the legislative role of president of the Senate, little attention is paid to the executive role of the vice president in the Constitution. Some presidents have relied heavily on their vice presidents as congressional liaisons or organizers of agenda initiatives, whereas others have barely used them in any formal capacity. Given how much the executive responsibilities of the vice president can change from administration to administration, it is little wonder that John Nance Gardiner, vice president under a very active President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, remarked that the office was not worth a warm bucket of spit.
, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of ElectorsThe Federalist Papers, No. 68: It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. Hamilton ascribes virtues to the electoral college system.
, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice PresidentChanged by the Twelfth Amendment
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be electedChanged by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
§2 The President shall be Commander in ChiefThe Federalist Papers, No. 74: The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive –Hamilton outlines the major powers granted to the president by the first clause of Article II, Section II.
of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make TreatiesThe Federalist Papers, No. 75: The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive Hamilton addresses some of the concerns over the power of the president to make treaties.
, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other OfficersThe Federalist Papers, No. 76–77: The Appointment Power of the Executive Hamilton examines the appointment powers of the president.
of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the UnionBrief History- State of the Union: The Constitutional requirement that the president keep the Congress up to date on the goings-on of the nation forms the basis upon which the annual State of the Union Address is made. While the president is required to give the Congress information, he or she must be invited by the Congress to give an address in person. When addressing a joint session of Congress, the president stands on the second level of the dais just below the Speaker of the House and the vice president, the heads of the two chambers. This tradition symbolizes that the president is in this capacity a guest of the Legislative Branch. Presidents George Washington and John Adams chose to deliver addresses to the Congress in person, but from Presidents Thomas Jefferson through William Howard Taft the periodic reports from the executive branch were submitted only in written form. The election of Woodrow Wilson brought a former college professor into the presidency and the tradition of delivering a formal speech to the Congress was reborn; every president since has given addresses to the Congress personally.
, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from OfficeSupreme Court Rulings- Judicial Checks on the Executive: United States v. Nixon (1974) Established the Court’s authority to review the president’s executive privilege, in this case during impeachment proceedings. Clinton v. Jones (1997) Court reaffirmed that Article II of the Constitution does not grant certain immunities to the president, this time in civil litigation regarding acts conducted before taking office.
on ImpeachmentBrief History-Impeachment Case Studies (A2§4): Impeachment is the process established by the Constitution to charge executive and judicial branch officials with wrongdoing and remove them from office if convicted. Separate from criminal proceedings, the process was designed as part of the checks-and- balances among the branches of the federal government. The House of Representatives was given exclusive ability to bring articles of impeachment, and the Senate was given exclusive ability to conduct impeachment trials for removal. Since the First Congress convened in 1789, there have been nineteen impeachments brought and eight guilty verdicts. Of those impeachments, only two have been issued against presidents: Andrew Johnson in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act by firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and William Clinton in 1998 for committing perjury in testimony before a grand jury. In both cases the Senate voted to acquit, and neither president was removed from office.
for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
§1 The judicial Power of the United StatesThe Federalist Papers, No. 81: …on account of the natural propensity of such bodies to party divisions, there will be no less reason to fear that the pestilential breath of faction may poison the fountains of justice… These considerations teach us to applaud the wisdom of those States who have committed the judicial power, in the last resort, not to a part of the legislature, but to distinct and independent bodies of men. Hamilton addresses the controversy of vesting judicial authority to a body separate from the Legislature, and concerns of the authority of the Supreme Court over State Legislatures.
, shall be vested in one supreme CourtSupreme Court Rulings- Judicial Power: Marbury v. Madison (1803) Established the power of judicial review under Article III. Chief Justice John Marshall explained, in his ruling, that the very essence of judicial duty is to determine, in cases where the law and the Constitution are in opposition, whether the law or the Constitution govern the case. By concluding that the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument, Marshall set the precedent that the Supreme Court shall have the authority to determine the constitutionality of legislative acts passed by Congress.
, and in such inferior CourtsSupreme Court Rulings- District Courts: Baker v. Carr (1962) While the case dealt specifically with the one person, one vote standard of legislative redistricting, it also determined that legislative reapportionment falls under federal district court jurisdiction as defined by Article III.
as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
§2 The judicial Power shall extendThe Federalist Papers, No. 80: This constitutes the entire mass of the judicial authority of the Union. Let us now review it in detail. Hamilton breaks down the entire first clause of Article III, Section II in Federalist No. 80.
to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this ConstitutionThe Federalist Papers, No. 78: The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body…and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. In Federalist No. 78, Hamilton describes judicial review and the powers granted to the judicial branch.
, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;— between a State and Citizens of another StateChanged by the Eleventh Amendment.
,—between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or SubjectsChanged by the Eleventh Amendment.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and ImmunitiesThe Federalist Papers, No. 80: And if it be a just principle that every government ought to possess the means of executing its own provisions by its own authority, it will follow, that in order to the inviolable maintenance of that equality of privileges and immunities to which the citizens of the Union will be entitled, the national judiciary ought to preside in all cases in which one State or its citizens are opposed to another State or its citizens. Hamilton describes this somewhat ambiguous clause as the basis of the union and asserts the charge of the federal judiciary to settle conflicts of an interstate nature.
of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.Changed by the Thirteenth Amendment.
§3 New States may be admittedBrief History- U.S. Expansion (A4§3): The Constitution was written with an eye towards the West, and provisions for expanding the republic were included in the document. The Congress was allowed to make a process through which territories could apply for and be granted full statehood, in equal standing with the original thirteen. The process for such an admission has typically been as follows: the residents of the territory hold a referendum on the question of whether to apply for statehood; if a majority vote for statehood, the territorial government petitions Congress; upon the creation of a state constitution approved by both a majority of the people and a majority of both chambers of Congress, the Congress would pass a joint resolution granting statehood, and the president would proclaim the territory a state.
by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formedBrief History: In order to form a new state on land claimed by another state or multiple states, approval is required from both the legislature of that state, or legislatures of those states, and the Congress. Of the fifty states, only three have been formed out of land recognized as belonging to other pre-existing states: Kentucky out of Virginia in 1792, Maine out of Massachusetts in 1820, and West Virginia out of Virginia in 1863.
or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of GovernmentThe Federalist Papers, No. 10: Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Here Madison describes the tragic history of direct democracy; Federalist No. 10 expounds on the virtues of the republican government outlined in the Constitution.
, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this ConstitutionThe Federalist Papers, No. 43: It guards equally against that extreme facility which would render the Constitution too mutable; and that extreme difficulty which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It moreover equally enables the General and the State Governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other. –James Madison on the process of amending the Constitution
, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several StatesThe Federalist Papers, No. 85: Congress shall call a convention. Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air. Nor however difficult it may be supposed to unite two thirds or three fourths of the State legislatures, in amendments which may affect local interests, can there be any room to apprehend any such difficulty in a union on points which are merely relative to the general liberty or security of the people. We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority. Hamilton describes the second method of amending the Constitution as a check of the state legislatures on the federal government, though this method has never been exercised.
, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the LandThe Federalist Papers, No. 33: If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted (sic) to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies… It would otherwise be a mere treaty… and not a government, which is only another word for POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are NOT PURSUANT to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. Hence we perceive that the clause which declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we have just before considered, only declares a truth, which flows immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation, that it EXPRESSLY confines this supremacy to laws made PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION… Addressing concerns from anti-federalists of the supreme power outlined here in the Constitution, Hamilton explains that the supremacy of the Constitution is, in effect, the point, but that this supremacy is limited to powers outlined by the Constitution, and that all other powers are reserved to the States. Madison supports this view in Federalist No. 44, when he describes the Constitution without the provision of supremacy: In fine, the world would have seen, for the first time, a system of government founded on an inversion of the fundamental principles of all government; it would have seen the authority of the whole society every where subordinate to the authority of the parts; it would have seen a monster, in which the head was under the direction of the members.
; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The Word “Thirty” being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words “is tried” being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word “the” being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.
Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names
(President and deputy from Virginia)
William Samuel Johnson
Gunning Bedford, Jr.
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
James Madison Jr.
Richard Dobbs Spaight
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
William Jackson, Secretary
Amendments to the Constitution
Bill of Rights: Amendments I through XThe Federalist Papers, No. 84: Alexander Hamilton was actually opposed to the addition of these amendments, claiming in Federalist No. 84 that a number of such provisions were already incorporated within the Constitution, including habeas corpus (Article I, Section 9, Clause 2) and trial by jury (Article III, Section 2, Clause 3). James Madison, however, was a proponent and primary author of the first amendments, now known as the Bill of Rights, as a Member of Congress.
Amendment I (1791)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religionSupreme Court Rulings- First Amendment, The Establishment Clause: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) …no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein… –Justice Robert H. Jackson, in his eloquent portrayal of the First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech. Engel v. Vitale (1963) Ruled that an official public school prayer violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) Established the Lemon test to determine the constitutionality, under the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment, of any legislation concerning religion. Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000) Found that a public school policy which allowed for student prayer at school football games violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speechSupreme Court Rulings- First Amendment, Freedom of Speech: Schenck v. United States (1919) Upheld that the First Amendment does not protect speech that promotes criminal activity posing a clear and present danger, which Congress has the right to prevent. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) Established two-tiers of First Amendment protection, in which profanity and insulting speech are not considered to express social value and are thereby punishable by acts of legislation. Miller v. California (1973) Established the Miller test to determine speech as obscenity, and thereby unprotected by the First Amendment. Buckley v. Valeo (1976) Upheld limits on political campaign contributions, but overruled laws limiting independent political expenditures, as they are protected by free speech in the First Amendment. Texas v. Johnson (1989) Ruled that flag burning is protected speech under the First Amendment. Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000) Private organizations are given the right of expressive association under the First Amendment which allows them to exclude members if the presence of that person affects in a significant way the ability of the group to advocate public or private viewpoints. Citizen’s United v. FEC (2011) Determined that restrictions on independent political expenditures from corporations and labor unions, defined in the ruling as associations of citizens and therefore protected as such under the Constitution, violated freedom of speech under the First Amendment.
, or of the pressSupreme Court Rulings- First Amendment, Freedom of the Press: Near v. Minnesota (1931) Applied First Amendment free press protections to state laws, through the Fourteenth Amendment, by prohibiting prior restraint, in which laws are passed in advance to restrict future expression, such as gag orders or injunctions. New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) Further defined the limits of prior restraint on the press, as protected under the First Amendment, by putting a burden of proof on the executive branch that the publication (in this case, of the Pentagon Papers) poses a threat to national security.
; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II (1791)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment III (1791)
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment IV (1791)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizuresSupreme Court Rulings- Fourth Amendment, Search and Seizure: Mapp v. Ohio (1961) Applied the exclusionary rule to states. The rule considers evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure as protected by the Fourth Amendment and inadmissible in court. Katz v. United States (1967) Further defined the right to privacy, established in Griswold v. Connecticut, and extended Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure to places where persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy, limiting the use of electronic surveillance. Terry v. Ohio (1968) Determined that stop and frisk police tactics do not violate Fourth Amendment if there is suspicion the individual is armed and presently dangerous to the officer or to others, provided the officer has specific and articulable facts which warrant the intrusion. New Jersey v. TLO (1985) Judged that reasonable suspicion was enough for school officials to conduct a search of student belongings without violating the Fourth Amendment.
, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V (1791)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of lawSupreme Court Rulings- Fifth Amendment, Due Process Clause: Korematsu v. United States (1944) Ruling determined that the national security needs of the U.S., while at war with the Japanese Empire, justified the exclusionary detention of Japanese-Americans from designated military areas, and thus did not apply the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Established mandatory Miranda rights, in which police must, as a matter of procedure, inform suspects under arrest of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during police questioning, and that anything a suspect does say can be used against them in court.
; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI (1791)
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of CounselSupreme Court Rulings- Sixth Amendment, Right to Counsel: Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) Extended Sixth Amendment right to counsel to indigent defendants in all criminal cases, federal and state. Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) Ruled that police interrogations must allow Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Established mandatory Miranda rights, in which police must, as a matter of procedure, inform suspects under arrest of their Sixth Amendment right to counsel during all police questioning, to be appointed an attorney if one could not be afforded, and to stop answering questions at any time during questioning.
for his defence.
Amendment VII (1791)
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII (1791)
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishmentsSupreme Court Rulings- Eighth Amendment, Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Gregg v. Georgia (1976) Ruled that the death penalty does not violate the Eighth Amendment so long as the sentence is not mandatory or arbitrary.
Amendment IX (1791)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the peopleSupreme Court Rulings- Ninth Amendment, Concerning Enumerated Rights: Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) Dealt with the right to privacy, described as implied in the Bill of Rights and not specifically outlined, as supported by the Ninth Amendment.
Amendment X (1791)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Amendment XI (1795/1798)
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
Amendment XII (1804)
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;—The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President—The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Amendment XIII (1865)
§1 Neither slavery nor involuntary servitudeSupreme Court Rulings- Thirteenth Amendment, Abolishing Slavery: Scott v. Sanford (1857) Court denied citizenship to persons of African descent, and also deprived the Federal government the power to free slaves under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. This ruling was indirectly overturned by Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.
, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XIV (1868)
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any lawSupreme Court Rulings- Fourteenth Amendment, Applying Federal Restrictions to the States: Civil Rights Cases of 1883 Declared that the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, though they abolished slavery and granted citizenship to former slaves, did not grant the federal government the power to regulate private acts of segregation. Gitlow v. New York (1925) Established that the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the scope of First Amendment free speech protections to include restrictions on state authority. Edwards v. South Carolina (1963) The Fourteenth Amendment does not permit a State to make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views. – Justice Potter Stewart, regarding First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and petition, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) Established the undue burden standard to abortion cases under the Fourteenth Amendment. Bush v. Gore (2000) Concluded that the recount of the 2000 Presidential election in the state of Florida could not be conducted in compliance with the requirements of equal protection and due process guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment, due to variations in county standards.
which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any personSupreme Court Rulings- Fourteenth Amendment, Due Process Clause: Roe v. Wade (1973) Determined that State abortion laws violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which, according to the ruling, protects against state action the right to privacy, which included the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy.
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the lawsSupreme Court Rulings- Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection Clause: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Established the separate but equal provision for public acts of segregation in the states under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The provision was overruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954). Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) Court concludes that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal and therefore violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, overturning the separate but equal standard established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) Upheld affirmative action initiatives, allowing race to be considered in college admissions, as constitutional and not in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Amendment XV (1870)
§1 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitudeSupreme Court Rulings- Fifteenth Amendment, Voting Rights: Smith v. Allwright (1944) Found a State law allowing racial discrimination in a primary election to be a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XVI (1913)
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Amendment XVII (1913)
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
Amendment XVIII (1919)
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Amendment XIX (1920)
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XX (1933)
The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
Amendment XXI (1933)
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Amendment XXII (1951)
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
Amendment XXIII (1961)
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XXIV (1964)
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XXV (1967)
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become PresidentBrief History- Vice Presidential Succession: Until the first presidential vacancy arose in 1841 with the untimely death of President William Henry Harrison, there was great uncertainty as to whether the vice president would become an acting president or fully president. John Tyler insisted that he fully succeeded Harrison–to the point that mail addressed to Acting President Tyler was ignored by the White House. Uncertainty also surrounded the role of the vice president during presidential incapacity. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body and significantly weakened him otherwise; that the remainder of his administration was largely shaped by his wife Edith, who acted on his behalf. The ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967 permanently codified the Tyler Precedent and established procedures for the temporary removal of a president due to incapacity.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Amendment XXVI (1971)
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Amendment XXVIIBrief History- The Twenty-Seventh Amendment: The First Congress initially proposed the text of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment in 1789, as part of what became known as the Bill of Rights, but it was not ratified at that time. With its revival in the early 1980s, additional states began to pass the proposed amendment until its ratification in 1992, after nearly 203 years. (1992)
No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.